Prepare Your Home for Winter: Preventing Frozen Pipes
Frozen pipes can wreak havoc and require costly repairs and cleanup. Follow the tips below to help protect your home’s pipes in cold weather.
- Make sure everyone in your home knows where the main water shut-off valve is located so you can turn off the water in an emergency. When you locate the valve, place the I.D. tag located on the back of this insert on it.
- Search for uninsulated pipes or pipes that pass through unheated spaces or rooms, such as crawl spaces, basements or garages. Protect exposed pipes by wrapping them with heat tape, pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation, available at hardware stores. If you have installed heat tape on exposed pipes, inspect the tape for cracks or fraying and make any needed repairs.
- If your meter is outside, make sure your meter lid is closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation, so don’t disturb it.
- Eliminate sources of cold air near lines by fixing windows, insulating walls, closing crawl spaces and eliminating drafts.
- Set your water heater temperature to about 120 degrees and install inexpensive low-flow shower heads to reduce hot water use. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees can reduce water heating costs.
- Drain all outdoor garden hoses, roll them up and store them inside to prevent cracking. If you have an indoor valve for the outside faucet(s), shut it off and drain water from pipes leading to the faucet(s).
- Drain any hoses and air conditioner pipes, and check for excess water pooled in equipment. If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly. Close them when water appears.
- Turn off and drain your irrigation system.
- Add extra insulation to the attic to prevent warm air from creeping into your roof, causing ice damage to the roof and gutters. Clean out gutters and downspouts to remove debris that can freeze and cause clogs during cold weather.
- If no one will be home for an extended period of time during extreme winter weather: Consider contacting your Water Company to turn your water off altogether and hiring a plumber to drain your system. That way, if your furnace stops working, there will be no water in your pipes to freeze.
When temperatures consistently fall below freezing…
- For kitchen or other sinks up against cold, exterior walls, open cabinets to let warm air in your home reach the pipes.
- Allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is typically lower than the cost of repairing a broken pipe.
If your pipes freeze…
- Shut off the water immediately. Don’t attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints that will leak when thawed.
- Apply heat to a frozen pipe by warming the air around it. Avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.
- Once the pipes have thawed, slowly turn the water back on and check for cracks and leaks.
In the event of an emergency, it might be necessary to turn off the main water valve coming into your home. It’s important that everyone know where the main water shut-off valve is located. In many homes, it is located near your water meter.
Download our tag to hang on the main water shut-off valve so everyone knows where it is.